The Military Tales of Han and Chu: Fan Kuai of the Han

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 (1786-1865)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1830
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 39.2 x 26.3 cm (15 7/16 x 10 3/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hero, Japan, ukiyo-e, warrior
Provenance research underway.

Kunisada responded to the success of Kuniyoshi's first Water Margin series with prints devoted to the heroes of the historical romance The Military Tales of Han and Chu (Chinese, Han-Chu juntan; Japanese, Kan-So gundan), which includes tales of the founding of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.-23 C.E.). Here Fan Kuai (Japanese, Han Kai), a dog butcher by trade, is shown forcing his way into the enemy Xiang Yu's camp to save the warrior Gaozu (Japanese, Koso) from assassination. His fierce demeanor matches the description in the historical account of this incident: "His hair stood on end and his eyes blazed with fire." Kunisada did not equal Kuniyoshi in the design of warrior prints, and he did few designs, leaving Kuniyoshi to dominate the subject.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 74, pp. 198-201.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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